While Kelowna is already considered a natural gem for its careful balance between the city’s strong business centre and the outlying forest, there is a special space located in the heart of the city where locals and visitors alike can celebrate tranquility in an entirely unique way. Behind City Hall, you’ll discover the simple yet elegant Japanese-inspired Kasugai Gardens. If you plan to walk around the downtown area this weekend, check out this peaceful spot for some quiet contemplation and enjoy the art and style of Japanese culture. The gardens are located right by the lakefront on Queensway and Water Street and are open from 9am-8pm all week long from March until the end of October. There is no charge for admission, so there is no excuse not to spend an hour or two in this perfect place.
The Unique History of the Kasugai Gardens
The city of Kelowna has been the sister city of Kasugai in Japan for a long time, but in order to establish a dedication to that relationship, in the early 1980’s Kelowna officials deliberated creating a commemoration by establishing a Japanese garden. In 1983, officials decided to start construction and placed a plaque inscribed with the promise: “The Friendship of our Two Cities is reflected in the beauty of this Garden which links together the citizens of Kelowna and Kasugai.” Soon after, a landscape architect was brought in from Japan to design and work with the available space. With the support of builders and contractors, quality stone was donated as well as timber bamboo that was used in the Hong Kong Pavilion during EXPO 86. Together with the donation of a pump and irrigation system, the waterfall, pond and stream were created by the end of 1987.
Traditional Beauty in a City Setting
Amidst the many manicured trees in the gardens, you’ll discover stone lanterns and quaint pathways for birds and other small animals to scurry through. So much attention to detail and authenticity makes this spot ideal for afternoon strollers, a lover’s promenade and even an adventurous family outing. At the entrance, visitors are greeted by the memorial statue dedicated to Yukihisa Tanaka, who was instrumental in making the garden a reality. Titled “Circle of Friendship,” it honours Mr. Tanaka who sadly passed away in 1995.
The Perfect Wedding Spot
While you’ll enjoy simply walking along the shaded trails of these grounds, you should know that the Kasugai Gardens is also a delightful spot for a small wedding. The natural yet urban setting offers guests the pleasure of being enclosed in a semi-private and tranquil locale, but also the convenience of being situated in the heart of Kelowna. In 2010, the Parks Department invited Mr. Junji Shinagawa, the gardener from the UBC Nitobe Gardens to enhance the already lush foliage by advising on traditional gardening techniques for the surrounding shrubs and trees, thus making the overall feel of the gardens even more perfect for a small wedding ceremony.
While those in Kelowna already work and live in a beautiful garden city, downtown wanderers are even more fortunate to have this small oasis from the hectic traffic and pedestrian noise. This weekend, why not make a trip and check out the Kasugai gardens so you can secure your own piece of paradise in an already stunning city.